Licensing Board Passes BYOB Rules,Regulations

By John Lynds

Soon, East Boston small restaurant owners without a beer and wine license will be able to have their loyal patrons bring their own bottles.

Last week the City of Boston’s Licensing Board unanimously approved rules and regulations to allow for BYOB (bring your own bottle) in Boston.

In December the Boston City Council voted in favor of lifting the long-standing ban on BYOB in small neighborhood restaurants like those that line many of the streets in East Boston.

The plan to lift the BYOB ban was proposed by Council President Michelle Wu, supported by City Councilor Sal LaMattina and signed by Mayor Martin Walsh.

Thastaurants outside downtown neighborhoods with a capacity of 30 or less to apply for a BYOB license.

“Today’s vote brings us one big step closer to implementing BYOB in Boston,” said Wu. “Not only will BYOB give small business owners another tool to boost economic activity, but it will also provide consumers with more dining out options in our neighborhoods. The result will be a more vibrant restaurant scene across the whole city.”

The Licensing Board’s regulations include that a Common Victualler license holders must first obtain a BYOB permit prior to allowing patrons to bring alcoholic beverages onto their premise.

Restaurants holding any type of alcoholic beverage license granted by the Licensing Board and the ABCC are not eligible to hold a BYOB permit. Also restaurants in the Downtown, North End, South End, Bay Village, Fenway, Chinatown, Seaport, West End, Beacon Hill and Back Bay neighborhoods of Boston are not eligible for a BYOB permit.

A BYOB Permit will not issue until a qualified owner submits proof of liquor liability insurance for bodily injury or death.

The regulations all call for licensee, managers, and all employees to complete a safe service of alcohol training program prior to issuance of a BYOB permit. Employees hired after the issuance of a BYOB permit must complete alcohol training program prior to beginning their employment.

The new regulations also stipulate that patrons are prohibited from bringing distilled spirits into the licensed premise and may only bring malt beverages in containers no larger than 16 oz., and may bring in no more than a total of 64 oz. per person. Patrons may only bring wine in containers no larger than 750 ml., and may bring in no more than a total of 750 ml. per person. Patrons are also prohibited from re-entering the premise with additional alcohol.

Also licensees can not charge a “corkage” or any other fee or surcharge for permitting BYOB or providing any service or amenity relative to BYOB.

“I feel that it’s great for neighborhoods and small businesses,” said LaMattina. “It’s a great way to entice more patrons and increase activity, especially in main streets districts. I applaud Councilor Wu for her leadership as well as the Licensing Board on this and making sure that we approach this with common sense by limiting the amount of alcohol brought in. Small businesses are the lifeline for many of our neighborhoods that lay outside of the downtown area and I have always supported them. This legislation will go a long way to making sure that these businesses remain solid and prosper”

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